Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Things to ponder

Washington State relies on the Red Cross almost exclusively, and their recent 'Cascadia Rising' disaster simulation exercise showed that the state is woefully unprepared.  They now call for two weeks of food and water put by, thankfully,  not that ridiculous 72 hour thing.  

Harding's administration has parallels with Trump's so far:  cabinet of the rich.  Harding was the guy who oversaw the Roaring Twenties, which turned into the Greatly Depressing Thirties.  Just what we need:  another reason to prep.  Oy.

The cyberattack on the Ukraine that brought down part of their electrical system:  it could happen here.  We've had an election hacked, Yahoo had 1 billion - yes, billion with a b - accounts hacked and now Verizon is looking at Yahoo a bit cockeyed, and not so sure it's a good deal after all, maybe. Don't hold your breath while people try to figure out responses and workarounds to a major hack.

Look at Venezuela to see what we could be facing if the economic doodoo hits the proverbial fan.  Not a pretty sight.  Hopefully, it won't be as bad as people think.

One last thought...logged into a fairly large prepper board today and noticed that some people claim liberals can't be preppers (some pretty hateful responses regarding liberals there; who benefits from the division between liberals and conservatives?  Sure as hell isn't working folk).  I'll see that claim and raise it a stack of cans of sardines; you can't get much more liberal than I am before you have to register as a socialist.  And I prep.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Anybody can write about prepping...hell, I do!

My valuable $.02 on the article available >here<. There's a link there; trust me. 

I love it when someone says 'pick up a few sheets of plywood' [page 10] for when your windows break because oh, yeah, you’re gonna cut it with the new handsaw you just bought.  And there’s the ubiquitous ‘pick up some nails’.  How about you get some sheetrock screws which have coarse threads, drive easy and are great for quick-and-dirty repairs, like putting up some freakin’ pre-cut plywood on your busted windows???  And keep your cordless drill batteries charged up?  And have a ratcheting screwdriver to facilitate screwing stuff on your dwelling if needed?  Oh, I using my have-a-backup-practical-girl brain again?  My bad.

Also on page 10:  everyone in your household should know this about your electricity needs:  1) using the oven for baking and anything else that pulls a serious load is out when you’re using a generator.  You'll need alternative means of washing clothes and drying them, and if you have an electric range, you’ll need an alternative for that as well.  2) You should go through your house and identify the things you need, not want, to power.  If you have a freezer full of food, that's a priority; your game console is not.  3) Everyone needs to know where the main power switch is, not just the 'circuit breakers'.  4) Make sure that your alternative systems for heating are safe, i.e., won't produce carbon monoxide and kill you.  5) know that your gas furnace won’t run without power to the electric blower. PITA, but that's the way it is.

They are expensive but they are much lower power than incandescent and will last much longer:  LED bulbs.  Periodically my energy company has an offer for lights on sale, and I’ve been swapping out my incandescents for them for a while now.  Reduce your energy load before you need to and your generator will power more of what you need when it counts.

If you have gas, know that if you turn the gas off, the gas company would really, really, really like it if you let THEM turn it back on.  Kinda makes it safer in case there's a leak, don'tcha know.  Everyone should know where the gas turnoff wrench is, and how to use it. 

If you have a DIY alarm system that is battery powered, start swapping out the batteries for rechargeables and get yourself a hand-cranked charger and a battery charger that takes AAs and AAAs.  You can recharge four of either size in the one I have, and while you might get bored cranking the thing, you can power one of those little LED flashlights about 4" long with 3 AAAs.  The alarm systems will use similar sizes.

One alarm you should consider getting is a freezer alarm; I found one online that had mixed reviews, but it’s monitoring fine for me.  I have one remote unit in a full-size upright freezer and the other in my fridge’s freezer, and the alert panel is mounted on the wall where I put down my purse and keys so I see it frequently.  And it has rechargeable batteries, too.

Keep extra rechargeable batteries in all the sizes you use on hand so you can swap them out quickly.  The ones I’d focus on are those in LED flashlights, and everyone should have their own close to hand so they can grab it easily at night.

If you want a weapon you don’t need to aim as carefully as a rifle or hand gun, consider a shot gun; from what I’ve been told (it’s on my list to get and money’s the only reason I don’t have one and the training to use it) racking a shotgun is one sound that stops people in their tracks. 

If you want to stock up on canned goods, remember the can opener!!!!  There are alternative methods to open cans without one, but trust me, you want as little stress added to an already stressful situation, and a nice, easy can opener helps in that regard.

When you are getting food to have on hand in an emergency, make sure you get things you’ll eat – many other people’s recommendations include things to their taste and not necessarily yours.  Get what you like, which is probably more of what you already eat.  When you shop for groceries (you already know this, but I’m going to remind you) don’t just shop the ads.  Go down the aisles for the things you use a lot of and look to see if there are sales on anything you need, like manager’s specials or closeouts.  These typically don’t make it into the ads.   Check alternative sources such as restaurant supply stores and drug stores; know your prices so you can shop their loss leaders. 

If you keep your eye out you can find things on Craigslist and Freecycle for preparing for emergencies, so don’t rule out getting things used.  

For entertainment, think board and card games, and get a variety, and extras of the consumables like Yahtzee pads.  Make sure you have enough light at night for anyone who knits or embroiders or the like, and have a good number of your favorite genre of books on hand.   Try to keep things as normal as you can in the circumstances; for instance, ‘back up’ the Internet with an encyclopedia, try to keep the children occupied with school-related work, etc.  Keep your camera charged and empty the disk periodically so you can take pictures for insurance or other purposes.

Things to consider when you are preparing to be prepared:  one burner stove meals - think soup, taco meat, stir-fries, quesadillas, anything that takes only one pan and a burner (like a one burner butane stove).  If you have a good knife, a grater and a cutting board, you can make do without a food processor. 

Remember comfort foods like chicken noodle soup or peanut butter on saltines or whatever.  Figure out how to make coffee or tea if you drink it; you can heat extra water and use it for washing dishes (and learn how backpackers wash dishes to save water).

If you feel overwhelmed, try starting with the systems or processes you use instead of a huge list.  Think in terms of ‘what do I need to wash dishes by hand?’ and see what you have on hand and what you need.  Have dishpans for rinsing dishes?  Scrubbers?  Towels?  Do the same thing with washing and drying clothes, etc., to compartmentalize and focus on each thing. 

And most of all – figure out what works for YOU, because what works for me, or the other guy, may not.  Oh - while you're here - this isn't my only post.  There are a couple more that might interest you; if nothing else you can admire my (for the most part) lack of typos and use of good grammar. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Canned good expiration dates

I have personally eaten some cranberry sauce that was about six years old and it wasn't a problem...didn't taste funky, just like cranberry sauce...check this out for more on expiration dates.

For Newbies from folks well along their path to preparedness...

Here's an interesting list for anyone starting out on their preparedness work; the folks at Knowledge Weighs Nothing (obviously, these folks have never packed up 70 years of National Geographic magazines to move) asked people who are well along in their preparing to give their best pieces of advice to newbies.

Here’s some of what the respondents said (sorted through my own filter to remove duplicates):
  1. Do something.
  2. Even a little bit is better than nothing. And don’t think you have to invest in some overpriced bunch of nonsense Glenn Beck is pushing. Just buy what you can afford, when you can afford it, and do a little bit all the time, using from the older stuff as you bring in the new. That way your supplies stay fresh, and you find out what you do or don’t like.
  3. Stockpile in a well rounded way. Don’t focus on one thing, and neglect another area. You don’t want to be living on just rice and beans and water. Variety is the spice of life (and there are other areas that need attention other than just eating)
  4. Books are important.
  5. Equipment without the knowledge of it’s practical application is about as useless as a milk bucket under a bull (e.g. medical supplies without any medical training). Educate yourself or surround yourself by those who already possess specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities!
  6. Gas in your vehicle and extra for future use…you may have to flee. And Grizzly bear spray for the zombies…save the ammo for hunting.
  7. I would say learn as much as you can first then, take into account what type of space you have to store the basic things your going to need. Talk to friend, family etc. Think about where you can go to bug out if need be and make a plan. Store food, water, meds, first aid and tools you may need build up slowly if you can’t afford to do it all at once.
  8. Don’t go in debt
  9. Also get all forms of important paper work together and know exactly where they are.
  10. Research, research, research. Not everything you learn will work for you. Plans can be adjusted. Be smart about what you do.
  11. Eat what you store, store what you eat. Apply that principle to the rest… if you camp regularly your preps will also be past of your life in a fun way. Don’t forget to live now while preparing for the zombies. Most disasters are not the end of the world, they just feel that way.
  12. Study all you want, but practice what you think will work for you and your family.
  13. Learn as much as you can and take from it what works for you practice with your guns learn to keep them clean make a plan
  14. Be aware of the re-purposing of everyday things…recycling to new use can be your best friend
  15. Store things that you actually like to eat and keep them in rotation. Learn to make fire without matches. Know your native plants and forage. Keep chickens and grow your food.
  16. Practice doing the things that you learn so that you will be comfortable and sure of yourself when the time comes.
  17. Don’t give up, it’s always overwhelming in the beginning
  18. Make what you can, Trade for what you can’t, then buy if you have too.
  19. Go camping even if it's just in the back yard. Be ready to live without utilities. I see way too many people with thousands of rounds of ammo but no water/filter system, or a freezer full of game but no generator. Start out prepping for a natural disaster, when you’re ready for a week with no utilities then expand.
  20. Start by making a plan with a safe location to meet if a disaster occurs. Then make sure your family knows it.
  21. Start small with survival basics like a BOB and buy extra canned goods and water. Don’t try to do it all in a day. Plan.
  22. Grow a garden & can what you grow. Then store it properly for long term.
  23. One step at a time. Read good manuals and practice one skill per week.
  24. Learn to do without. Then, learn to do w/as little as possible. Try & assign @ least 3 uses to everything around you, & learn the Laws of 3. 3 mins w/out air- 3hrs w/out shelter- 3days w/out water- 3weeks w/out food. 3 drops o’ bleach per gallon of water. 3 gallons o’ water per day in extreme heat, 3,000 calories per day, if working/runnin’ a full, 8hr+ day. But- NEVER eat unless you have water. Rest comfortably whenever possible. Don’t travel in wet/foul/cold weather unless necessary. Be in the moment. Don’t panic, & alleviate worry by planning & doing. Don’t take stupid chances. Oh, & learn, learn, learn- by doing.
  25. Start out small. Turn the power off at the breaker and shut the gas valve off and see how you cook the meal tonight. Next turn the power off over night. How are you going to wake up for work tomorrow? how are you going to walk thru your house at night. with no lights? NEVER let your car get below 3/4 of a tank, and buy a bike.
  26. [I]nformation [sic]your [spouse] into it. There are “to the point” shows that show how people act in emergencies. Show them the evidence of the past, as to earthly events. There’s the Carrington Event, volcano events, earthquakes events, etc. Tell them that you need them to man-up and take care of you. Tell them you need to know they are ready to protect and defend you and what you have. If they won’t listen to that and act, I don’t know what you have.
  27. First buy a book on emergency preparedness, then consider your family’s taste in things and then start building your supplies. Remember the mundane like toilet paper, etc. A friend suggested sturdy shoes in the event we have to walk distances to get things. Lots to learn but it’s all fun.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Doomsday Preppers

Reality TV.   Not mine, not yours, but someone's reality, showcased for everyone to see, and I suppose intended to facilitate your gloating over that your reality is different from/better than what you are watching.

I had never seen the program, but late at night when you're trying to wind down I thought I'd give it an eyeball.


Very first episode, here's what I noticed:
  • lots of 'stuff' in one yard, easy for someone to hide behind 
  • expectation that breakdown of power grid, e.g., will be like fall of Saigon
  • no protection for jars on shelves against falling off in an earthquake
  • lots of home canned goods; shelf life is not as long as commercial stuff
  • windows on ground level in 3/8" steel shipping containers = weak points
  • statement that cooking reduces nutrients and proteins in fish (countered by the producer with a statement of the facts of the matter on screen)
  • overweight and badly packed bugout bag
  • focusing on fitness (4 hours/day) and not balancing with practical knowledge 
  • assumption that all other women will have to 'whore themselves out' to survive (based, I think, on a book I've read excerpts from, which assumes a woman without a man can't survive without the aforementioned 'whoring out'; the book having been written by a man, there is definitely a grain of salt to be taken there)
Now, I admit to being picky, but these weren't small issues I felt I could suspend reality for.  

Will I keep watching this series?  Yes, and here's why:

When you watch programs like this, or read blog posts (even this one!) you should be keeping a weather eye out for whether or not there's any truth to be had or whether you are reading or watching a can of worms in bullshit sauce being opened.  If a casual perusal of Doomsday Preppers alerts you to what not to do, that's a good thing.  If it points out a flaw in your emergency preparations, that's a good thing. 

I'm including this blog in the 'can' reference; what works for me might not work for you.  Your mileage may differ.  Your experience/situation/location/perception, etc., may require something else entirely.  And that's what I recommend:  that you prepare for emergencies in a way that makes sense to you, not to me, not to Uncle Bob, and not to your Facebook friends.  To YOU.  And read/watch with a judicious eye; don't assume that anybody writing or producing anything knows anything.

Anyway...Doomsday Preppers at least shows some things not to do.  Take that first episode:  'we have 50,000 pounds of food'...yeah, and the first earthquake, without you having ensured it won't fall off the shelf, it will, and you're up the creek with a pantry full of busted glass and a mix of wet and dry food that is now totally inedible.  

And the overweight and badly packed bugout bag:  the owner thereof mentioned her newly acquired knowledge that she needed to think in terms of ounces, not pounds...and that she wasn't as physically fit as she thought when traversing six miles took her six hours and wore her out.  

And firing a weapon at water bottles when it's propped against a picnic table is a lot different than firing it freestanding at a moving, hostile target, and until you can hit the latter, you might be better off running away. 

Doomsday Preppers is educational in many ways.  Just don't expect that the education is entirely positive.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Not bloody likely....

At the website Survive the Coming Collapse, there’s a recent article titled “Five Types Of Looters You Must Prepare For“.  Read it if you’d like, but with a grain of salt; some of its points merit rebuttal and reflection. 

Here’s something I don’t quite get: 

“When the lights went out, security at the prison was compromised. Most of the jail guards left for home at first sign of trouble. Now, the tables are turned and Toni and several other inmates have escaped. Toni and his group are on foot, but that doesn’t present a problem because their rural location offers plenty of opportunities. The farmers in the area have fruits and vegetables ripe for the picking. Several in the vicinity raise horses. Now that he and the other inmates broke out of prison, Toni considers himself lucky; the problem of food and transportation is solved…once he and the five other inmates have overtaken the family they’ve targeted.”

Hmmm…let’s see:  Toni and the other inmates he’s with all know how to saddle and ride horses, collapse conveniently has chosen harvest time to occur, and ‘Toni’ (which is the spelling for the girl’s version of the name…?) and his fellow inmates all trust each other in this grand scheme enough that they can carry out a coordinated home invasion.  And they’ve somehow figured out which family has the resources they need, in an area they don’t know, and intend to relieve the farmer (who probably is armed and well aware of the proximity of the prison and the consequences in situations like this) of his goods.  Oh, and the prison had no backup generator, no plan for emergencies like this, and prison guards are all dolts who bolt when the lights flicker.

Not bloody likely. 

Now, as for the ‘tactically trained’ person.  Obviously, his tactical training didn’t take into account that when you get a gallon of gas for your chain saw, that is at least two tanks’ full and you can go through several trees that have fallen or that you want to cut down for whatever reason, and having gas for your chainsaw doesn’t mean you had the foresight to stock up on canned leeks and peaches as well.  No, it means you like to cut down trees.  Or think you need to cut down trees, or cut trees that fell on something like your main egress from your property, or smashed up your house.  As for using an ax as a quieter alternative to a chain saw, when there’s not a lot of noise, the sound of an ax being used resonates through the woods, as does the noise a tree makes when it falls.  Was this article written by a city kid, or what?  And the ‘tactically trained’ person has no idea about burning wood, either; if you burn wood, you tend to burn seasoned wood, not green, freshly cut wood, as it doesn’t burn nearly as well as the stuff that’s been sitting in your wood pile for months waiting for burn season so you can light a fire in the wood stove.  And as for more supplies being available in outlying areas, well…seriously, if you have an established suburban neighborhood full of houses, and compare it to a rural area with large lots of one house per five or more acres, where is the resource density to be found?   Hint:  not out in the tule bushes.  Lights in a house?  Seriously?  Lights???  C’mon, candles make light.  Candles don’t mean huge food stocks available for the taking.  Mr. Tactical Training doesn’t sound either, IMNSHO, and he’d be easy to slough off when you show him that you’re burning Christmas candles in February; he’s not as smart as he sounds. 

Here’s the description of how to make blackout curtains: 

Now is a good time to fit your windows with black-out curtains. Even using a piece of material that’s secured—possibly with duct tape, so light doesn’t escape and alert people outside, will do. “

Actually, fabric stores sell blackout fabric, and if you need that much some stores sell it by the bolt.  Check around.  A ‘piece of fabric’ you have lying around the house will not do; get the stuff specifically made for the project if you want to do it right.  A piece of sheeting isn’t.

The author took pains to point out that she took the opportunity to ‘school’ a Home Depot employee about all the flour and other baking goods when she bought some more buckets for food storage, but displayed a definite lack of imagination on the subject.  All she had to say (if she’s in a state that has a cottage food baking law) that she has a home baking business and is restocking.  If her state doesn’t have said law, there’s always stocking up for one’s personal Christmas baking (going all out this year and entering gingerbread contests locally) or ‘I’m buying for several households; I’ve got the biggest car and the other folks all have little kids and a hard time getting out’ or ‘if there’s one thing I really hate it’s running out’ or ‘we’re decorating the yard for Hallowe’en’ if you’re buying TP.  Or, ‘I have a high cholesterol problem and my husband loves oatmeal for breakfast’ if you’re buying a lot of oatmeal.  The creative and true-sounding lie is better than ‘schooling’ someone to prep, especially if, as the author recommends, you are at a distance from your home and paying cash, which is a hella good way to draw attention to yourself, cash plus a bunch of buckets.  After all, license plates aren’t that hard to memorize…

The suggestions for protecting yourself from the ‘looters’ described consist of ‘get a gun and a dog and eat cold food while the looting’s going on.  And don’t let anybody know you have any candles, because candles make light.  And don’t use your chainsaw, use an ax.  And have a backup plan for pooping and wiping.’ 

Somehow, I don’t think this article was quite as well-thought-out as the author thought it was.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mom doesn’t like kippers for breakfast….

…and other things to remember when preparing for [non-]immediate family and friends.

My mother is staying with me temporarily while a medical problem gets sorted, which has presented some interesting challenges that bear on preparation for emergencies.  For one, Mom doesn’t like kippers.  Doesn’t drink coffee.  Doesn’t eat much meat at all.  And she eats things I won’t touch, like Oreos and pudding, both of which I find disgusting and won’t have in my house.

And she needed a bed.  And padding to make the damn thing (a hospital bed) comfortable.

And…then there was the incident of the footboard in the night.  Nothing Sherlockian; the thing’s inside the room she’s in and she knocked it over, and where it was when it fell over was in front of the door.  Inside, blocking the door that opens in.  So…there was a bit of panic about getting into the room so I could move it out of the way so she could get out of the room.  And…then there’s the toilet seat she needs to use the toilet.  Fortunately, I have two bathrooms, but the one she uses has no sink because her need for staying with me arose in the middle of some minor remodeling and I couldn’t get anyone in to fix the lack-of-sink problem.  And…then there’s the issue of her needing her own shower back at home, because mine doesn’t have a seat (it’s too small) and not enough things to hang on to.

And…so on.

How you prepare for the ‘average’ person versus how you prepare for someone who has needs that vary significantly from yours considerably is a puzzlement if you’ve never had your mother stay with you, for example, or if you didn’t know that your nephew was allergic to a variety of foods, many of which are staples in your pantry and food stocks.  

Medical supplies and medications need to be considered if someone you are preparing for will need them.  Extra supplies for menstruating women, babies and the elderly include sanitary pads and/or tampons, (menstruation and incontinence), adult and baby diapers (incontinence again) and extra supplies for cleanliness need as well; extra laundry supplies if you laid in cloth diapers.  You might be able to go a day without a shower, but a baby needs to be cleaned up every diaper change, and an elderly individual with either urine or fecal incontinence will also need supplies to ensure cleanliness.

Individuals with chronic illnesses present other issues.  Colds come and go, but the individual with intermittent or persistent mobility issues will need to be accommodated somehow.  Can you build a ramp for those that are unable to negotiate the few steps to your front door?  Did you plan on putting people upstairs only to find that now your elderly parent can’t negotiate the stairs?  Think ahead, and if it means possibly moving people around to accommodate those coming into the household, discuss the issue beforehand to forestall resentment and hostility.

Consider the possibility that you may not be able to provide for the people you care about (or are related to).  Are there others who can provide for them?  Are their needs just too great or complicated for you to manage?  Be honest with people who may think you will provide for them about realistic expectations and what you can actually manage.

Then, too, there’s the other side of the coin with regard to the folks coming to your house:  people who are scent-sensitive mixing with those that like perfumed toiletries, people who prefer quiet to those who are more extroverted, and people who don’t like cats or are afraid of dogs are three examples of how those coming in to your house can disrupt your routine or affect your life in some way. 

If you have large dogs and someone coming to your house is afraid of dogs, they will have to unlearn their fear.  If you are scent sensitive and people you prepare for aren’t, let them know that scented items are not allowed and that your house is scent-free.  And stock up on extras of things that could bother you if they were scented, such as hand soap, shampoo and laundry soap…and if you need your space, say so!  Don’t let relatives or friends drive you crazy in an emergency.  State up front what your rules and expectations are.   This is a case of keeping your ‘cup’ full so that you can pour out care on others; if you compromise and give in and keep quiet too much you risk your own well-being, mental or otherwise, and then you cannot care for those you have chosen to care for.  It’s ok to set rules for your household, and it’s ok to expect anyone coming into your household to respect those rules.